Land Use Help Has Arrived

For many years, the Montecito Association, via its public board meetings, town hall events, land use and architectural review committees, web site and office resources has strived to best interpret and explain the County’s land use process. However, it has been suggested by members of the community, County staff and even the MBAR and the MPC (Montecito Planning Commission), that more needs to be done to help educate the public on this important topic.

As a result, we are pleased to announce the publication of our new “Montecito Association Guide To Building And Remodeling.” This eight-page pamphlet provides a concise, user-friendly resource designed to clarify a set of procedures many people find confusing and even arbitrary. In plain English and in a simple straightforward manner, we detail all the steps necessary, their proper order, and a clarification of all terminology you are likely to encounter when building, remodeling or responding to a proposed project in Montecito.

The text is not subjective and not an interpretation of the process as the Montecito Association may like to see it. The pamphlet is technical, based on County Planning Process guidelines, objective, and straightforward. It also includes a chart of the Planning Process steps and contact information listing all requisite County agencies and decision-makers involved.

We will be mailing the guides to our members shortly. We also plan to suggest that Montecito realtors use the pamphlet as a tool to better assist clients who intend building or remodeling. It has also been suggested that we provide the pamphlet to local architects and builders and we plan to make them available at the Montecito Association office.

Our goal is simple – a better-informed community benefits everyone.

Montecito Construction Parking Overflow

My recent column discussing construction parking in Montecito elicited several calls from unexpected sources – owners of businesses on Coast Village Road.

As a result of the parking restrictions at construction sites and neighboring streets in Montecito, contractors, tradesmen, and clients are apparently becoming more creative about where to have their workers park their cars and trucks. The newest favorite location seems to be Coast Village Circle, where there are no parking restrictions. Beginning before 7am, the staging of construction vehicles deprives local businesses of their long established “employee parking,” instead forcing personnel to park in spaces on Coast Village Road with a 90-minute limit. One business owner who arrives early told me that he has approached some of the workers and they confirmed that they are being taken up the hill in vans to sites in Montecito but refused to say where or who they work for. This is a growing problem for business owners who now have to tolerate the disruption of employees moving their cars every 90 minutes or pay the parking fines of those who cannot get to their cars in time.

Let’s not allow our construction parking to also become a headache for neighboring communities. Ask your contractor where he is parking his employee’s vehicles and do what you can to keep this under control.

Montecito Association Survey

As part of our membership mailing earlier this year, residents of Montecito received a survey questionnaire asking their opinions on a number of subjects. Following is a brief summary of the many responses that we received.

The number one request was that property owners be informed when a project is up for review in their neighborhood. Response; If you live within 300 feet of a proposal, you should be automatically notified by the County. Let us know if you have any questions about how this works.

Other issues people found important are:

What to do when a neighbor is going to build or remodel;

Why are so many large homes being built?

Trimming hedges for better visibility while driving;

Traffic;

More community forums on topical issues.

We also received our fair share of criticism – some constructive and some less so.

Still a lot of confusion about the MBAR and MPC. Response: neither body is part of the Montecito Association; they are County agencies and make their own determinations.

Q. Why does Montecito Association allow such big houses to be built? A. As a homeowner’s association, we are considered part of the public, and as such we can only comment on projects. The decision makers are the MBAR, MPC, and County staff that makes decisions based on Montecito’s architectural guidelines and Community Plan.

Why are so many walls and fences being built?

A good question, and one the community needs to talk about.

Why did the Association allow Cal Trans to install that ugly chain link fence on North Jameson?

We had nothing to do with it.

A number of responses told us to stick to the issues that the majority of residents care about, and that we should stay away from taking positions that appear to reflect special interests of board members. Response: we hear you.

Unfortunately, some expressing strong criticisms of the Association did not give their names or contact information. This is a shame because I would have been happy to contact you, listen to your comments and have a chance to respond. I did this with the few that provided information and I believe the conversations were productive for both parties.

Thanks to all that took the time to respond.